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Died August 16

by Legacy Staff

Elvis Presley, or the King to his fans, transformed popular culture in post-World War II America with his voice, charm, and gyrating hips. We remember Elvis Presley’s remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Elvis Presley, or the King to his fans, transformed popular culture in post-World War II America with his voice, charm, and gyrating hips. His music blended rock, pop, blues, and gospel, moving from up-tempo hits like “Hound Dog” and “Blue Suede Shoes” to soulful ballads such as “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and “Love Me Tender.” He scandalized American audiences in the 1950s, winning legions of rabid fans with his suggestive dance moves and charisma. Television appearances on programs like “The Ed Sullivan Show” made him a household name, and Elvis capitalized on that popularity through a series of star vehicle films like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Viva Las Vegas.” His antics offstage also were larger than life, helping to cement his legacy as an American icon and keep him in the news even decades after his death. We remember Presley’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including singer Eydie Gorme.


2019: Peter Fonda, actor who became an icon of 1960s counterculture when he starred in “Easy Rider” alongside Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, dies at 79.

2012: William Windom, U.S. actor who appeared on numerous television shows including “The Twilight Zone” and “The Farmer’s Daughter,” dies of congestive heart failure at 88.

William Windom (AP File Photo)The easygoing Windom was an in-demand television character actor for decades and scored guest appearances on several American TV staples, including episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek,” and appeared on more than 50 segments of “Murder, She Wrote” beginning in the mid-1980s. There, Windom played a Maine country doctor opposite series star Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher. He also played the part of the prosecuting attorney who parries in court with Gregory Peck‘s Atticus Finch in the 1962 movie “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Read more

2008: Ronnie Drew, Irish singer, folk musician, and actor who achieved international fame as a member of the Dubliners, dies of cancer at 73.

Their songs include “The Molly Maguires,” “Dirty Old Town,” and “Seven Drunken Nights.” The Dubliners also recorded with the Pogues, and together they had a hit with “The Irish Rover,” according to Drew’s obituary by The Associated Press. Drew also released a string of solo albums. In 2008, a group of musicians — including Bono of U2, Christy Moore, the Pogues’ Shane MacGowan, and Sinead O’Connor — released a song called “The Ballad of Ronnie Drew.” All profits from the single went to the Irish Cancer Society. Read more

2007: Max Roach, U.S. jazz drummer considered one of the all-time greats, who worked with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie, dies at 83.

What distinguished Roach from other drummers were his fast hands and his ability to simultaneously maintain several rhythms, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. By layering different beats and varying the meter, Roach pushed jazz beyond the boundaries of standard 4/4 time. Roach’s innovative use of cymbals for melodic lines, and tom-toms and bass drums for accents, helped elevate the percussionist from mere timekeeper to featured performer — on a par with the trumpeter and saxophonist. Read more

2007: The Missing Link, Canadian wrestler who competed in the World Wrestling Federation and was managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, dies at 68.

2005: Joe Ranft, U.S. animator, screenwriter, and voice actor who was nominated for an Academy Award as a co-writer of the movie “Toy Story” and voiced characters in “Finding Nemo” and “A Bug’s Life,” dies in an auto accident at 45. Read more

2005: Vassar Clements, U.S. fiddler who won a Grammy Award and played with artists such as the Grateful Dead, Paul McCartney, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, dies at 77.

2002: Jeff Corey, U.S. actor who appeared in “The Cincinnati Kid” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” dies at 88.

1998: Dorothy West, U.S. author who was part of the Harlem Renaissance and was known best for her novel “The Living Is Easy,” dies at 91.

1995: Bobby DeBarge, U.S. musician and singer who was the lead singer of the rhythm and blues group Switch that had multiple gold albums for Motown Records, dies of AIDS complications at 39.

1994: John Doucette, U.S. character actor who appeared in hundreds of movies and television shows including “True Grit” and “My Friend Flicka,” dies at 73.

1993: Stewart Granger, English actor who was a Hollywood star in the 1950s, starring in “The Prisoner of Zenda” and “King Solomon’s Mines,” dies of prostate and bone cancer at 80.

1989: Amanda Blake, U.S. actress known for her role as Miss Kitty on the long-running TV Western series “Gunsmoke,” dies at 60.

Blake was beloved by television viewers for her portrayal of saloon owner Miss Kitty on the long-running TV Western “Gunsmoke.” From 1955 until 1974 – 19 of the series’ 20 seasons – Blake charmed audiences as the kindhearted proprietress of the Long Branch Saloon. The role was her longest lasting and most notable, though she also appeared in a dozen movies and a generous handful of TV shows, from an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” to a five-episode arc on a soap opera, “The Edge of Night.” Read more

1977: Elvis Presley, U.S. singer, musician, and actor who is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century and was referred to as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll or, simply, the King, dies at 42.

“I’ve had a pretty good lesson in human nature. It’s more important to try to surround yourself with people who can give you a little happiness, because you only pass through this life once, Jack. You don’t come back for an encore.” – Elvis Presley Read more

1973: Veda Ann Borg, U.S. actress who appeared in the movie “Guys and Dolls” and on many television series including “Bonanza,” dies at 58.

1964: Jack Pennick, U.S. actor who was a member of the informal John Ford Stock Company, appearing in dozens of the director’s films, dies at 68.

1958: Paul Panzer, German-born U.S. movie actor who starred in the silent serial “The Perils of Pauline,” dies at 85.

1956: Bela Lugosi, Hungarian-born U.S. actor who starred as Dracula in the classic 1931 movie version and starred in “The Raven” and other horror movies, dies at 73.

1949: Margaret Mitchell, U.S. author known best for the novel “Gone With the Wind,” dies after being struck by a vehicle while walking at 48.

Mitchell wrote most of the novel in secret, fearing failure and a lack of encouragement. Even after she steeled herself and gave a partial manuscript to a publisher, she changed her mind and tried to get it back. Luckily for us, the publisher had already begun reading it … and he loved what he’d read. Mitchell completed the novel at his urging, and the rest is literary and cinematic history. Read more

1948: Babe Ruth, U.S. Major League Baseball legend who hit 714 career home runs, had a lifetime batting average of .342, and won four World Series titles, dies at 53.

Ruth won four World Series, set single-season and career home run records, and has been called the greatest baseball player in history. But today he’s less remembered for his on-the-field achievements than revered as an icon of bygone Americana. The nostalgia and myth making that started taking place during his life stretched through the whole of the 20th century and shows little sign of abating during the 21st. Read more

1938: Robert Johnson, U.S. blues singer and musician who is recognized as a master of Mississippi Delta blues and whose legend states that he sold his soul at a crossroads to gain success, dies of unknown causes at 27.

Johnson was never limited to blues. His sometime playing partner Johnny Shines recalled that Johnson was a voracious radio listener and would perform pretty much anything he thought audiences wanted to hear, from pop songs to the cowboy yodeling of Jimmie Rodgers and even European immigrant styles like polka. One of Johnson’s less typical recordings, the ragtimey “They’re Red Hot,” suggests that he had mastered the kind of hip guitar style favored by radio stars like the Ink Spots. By the end of his life, some witnesses recall him working with a drummer and saxophone, moving toward the kind of jazzy combo style that would make T-Bone Walker a star in the early 1940s. Read more

1888: John Pemberton, U.S. pharmacist who was the creator of Coca-Cola, dies at 57.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including singer Eydie Gorme.

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